Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions. We post here answers to questions we're being asked frequently. If you have a question not answered here, please contact us. Urgent questions should be directed to your nearest office. Some answers change over time; please take note of the "answered" date.

Displaying 1 - 25 of 3553 questions

Q: Is it legal to remove sturgeon from the water when ice fishing?

Is it legal to take sturgeon out of the water when fishing a private pond?

A: 

When fishing on PUBLIC waters, sturgeon must not be removed from the water, even when ice fishing.

But, owners of legally permitted private ponds can set their own rules on limits and allowable fish-handling.  That means public fishing rules do not apply to private waters that may contain sturgeon. 

Sturgeon lack a rigid skeleton and removing them from the water can damage their internal organs. Sturgeon live a very long time, so Idaho fishing rules are set up to minimize fishing-related injury to these unique fish.

answered 1/27/2017

A: 

Idaho hunter education and bowhunter education are offered in all parts of the state, but availability varies by region. To find out when classes are offered, check the Idaho Fish and Game Website.

On the home page, click on the "Hunter Education" link in the education menu or the "Hunter Education" button in the right hand column. On the Hunter Education page, click on the link labeled "View or Sign Up for Courses Here." On the next page, scroll down and pick the course you are interested in and then click "View Upcoming Events" to find the nearest town from the list provided. "View Event" and "Register Now" when you find the class or field day you need.

Don't put it off until the last minute, later in the year, as hunting seasons get closer, classes fill up fast!

answered 7/21/2016

Q: What do you mean by center-fire rifle? Is there such a thing as off-center?

If so, where might I find one and what would I use it for?

A: 

Rimfire rifles strike the rim of the casing to ignite the primer rather than the center of the cartride. For this to work the cartridge walls need to be thin enough to be crushed by the firing pin and ignite the primer.  These thin brass walls limit the amount of gunpowder that may be used and consequently their use is limited to small calibers.  The 22LR (Long Rifle) is the most common round using a rimfire setup.

Rimfire rifles may not be used big game hunting in Idaho. More information about rimfire ammunition may be found on wikipedia.

answered 6/29/2016

Q: While hiking in Idaho am I allowed to carry a rifle?

While I'm out hiking or looking for sheds. Can I carry my rifle or shotgun for protection against cougar bear or wolf?

A: 

Yes, you can carry a weapon for protection while you are hiking or looking for shed antlers.  

answered 6/28/2016

A: 

Adult steelhead start swimming into Idaho waters each July. Beginning in July and for the next 10 months anglers pursue steelhead as they migrate up the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers. Steelhead fishing winds down in May as the fish reach their spawning grounds in Idaho’s mountain streams and hatcheries.

answered 6/1/2016

A: 

Because steelhead are in so many places in the state over such a long period of time, it’s hard to say there is a best time and place to go steelhead fishing. However, their upstream migration provides a general timeline for when they will likely arrive in different waters.

July through September: As steelhead start arriving into Idaho they tend to move into the Clearwater River using it as a thermal refuge. These early arriving fish tend to remain in the Clearwater until the Snake River cools toward the end of September or beginning of October.

October through December: October is an exciting time for steelhead anglers as two things tend to happen. Fish start spreading upstream into the Snake and Salmon rivers and by the time you reach November steelhead can be caught about everywhere. Another exciting thing that starts to happen in October is the larger B-run steelhead start entering the Clearwater River.

January and February: January and February can be times to fish with a little more solitude on the Clearwater, Little Salmon and Salmon rivers. Cold water reduces fish activity and catch rates decline, but fishing can still be productive when conditions are good.

March through May: The Salmon River upstream of Salmon, the Little Salmon River, the North Fork Clearwater and the South Fork Clearwater all provide the best fishing in the spring. Catch rates can be really good then as the fish are moving into the smaller rivers at the end of their migration.

Each month of the year and each location provide a completely different experience – the long days of September on the lower Clearwater, a warm October day in the Salmon River canyon, a cold January day in a drift boat near Riggins or Orofino, or the spring thaw in the Stanley Basin in April. The best time to fish for steelhead is a personal choice.

answered 6/1/2016

Q: Where do I report dead squirrels and rodents?

I have heard about the plague and want to report dead wildlife. Where do I do that?

A: 

Please review the information on the Plague page and find "Report Now."

Please note, that if this is an emergency situation, you should call 9-1-1 for immediate response.

 

All sightings are reviewed and passed along to biologists. However, not all reports will be followed-up with individually. Some people may be contacted for additional information, so please fill out the form thoroughly!

 

answered 5/26/2016

A: 

Foremost, keep yourself and your pets protected.

However, if you do find multiple rodents or mammals dead, you can help by reporting the sighting.

answered 5/26/2016

A: 

This online map will be updated regularly to display areas of mass die-offs and generalizes the location where the plague was discovered.

https://idaho.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=99d9e3dd1a...

answered 5/26/2016

A: 

You can greatly reduce the risk of becoming infected with plague by taking simple precautions, including avoiding contact with wild rodents, their fleas and rodent carcasses. You should not feed rodents in picnic or campground areas and never handle sick or dead rodents.

In addition, the "Safety" section of this page outlines additional recommendations.

answered 5/26/2016

A: 

People and pets can be at risk.

People can be exposed to plague when pets have contact with rodents or fleas outdoors, or bring infected rodents or fleas back into the home, or by caring for a sick pet without proper precautions.

answered 5/26/2016

A: 

Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents. Plague occurs naturally in the western United States, particularly Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. The plague bacterium (Yersinia pestis) is transmitted by fleas and cycles naturally among wild rodents.

answered 5/26/2016

Q: I'm getting the wrong number dialing in to buy an Idaho hunting or fishing license

I tried to dial 1-800-824-3729 like my favorite blog recommended, but that didn't connect to buy a license.

A: 

1-800-824-3729 has been retired for a while as a place to buy licenses from us.

Idaho Fish and Game does have an 800-number for purchasing licenses, but the number above has been retired for this purpose.

 

If you'd like to call-in to buy your hunting or fishing licenses, applications, tags, or permits, then dial: 1-800-554-8685

Most all of the places you'll find this number are in older press releases or in well-meaning blogs or articles that are a little bit out-of-date. 

answered 5/16/2016

A: 

Steelhead spawn in streams from mid-April to late June. They use areas of gravel or small cobble depending on the size of the fish. Often the best spawning areas are in pool tail-outs. When a female finds a suitable place to spawn, she displaces the gravel with her body and tail, and the male fertilizes the eggs as they are deposited.

The eggs hatch in early to midsummer. The young fish live in the stream and then migrate to the ocean, usually after two years of rearing in the stream. The juvenile fish will grow rapidly after they reach the ocean. When they mature and are ready to spawn, steelhead migrate back to the place they were born. They enter the lower river drainages in the fall and winter-over to spawn the following spring, which allows a fall and spring fishing season to occur. Most wild steelhead take 4 to 6 years to mature.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Steelhead anglers fish use a variety of techniques such as plunking, bobber and jig, fly fishing, side planer, back trolling, and side drifting. Since steelhead typically are not feeding as they wait to spawn, anglers like to use a variety lures, beads, yarn and/or flies that stimulate the steelhead to bite. Sometimes steelhead are aggressive and will take about anything put in front of them, and other times it requires more finesse. Many anglers believe that using bait or scent will increase the likelihood that a steelhead will bite. Popular baits include shrimp, sand shrimp, and cured eggs, and there are about as many different types of scents that anglers use as you can imagine.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

One bighorn sheep tag in Unit 11 is offered every year. How you might acquire it alternates between a raffle and an auction. For example, one year the tag is auctioned to the highest bidder and the next year it is drawn through a raffle. This allows every hunter the chance to pursue the Unit 11 bighorn tag. The money raised through these special tags is dedicated to bighorn sheep management and disease investigations.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

In banner years for returning steelhead, Fish and Game often bring adult hatchery steelhead to the Boise River to create an additional fishing opportunity. This generally happens in mid-November, depending on the counts and timing of steelhead returning to the trap at Hells Canyon Dam.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Drawing results will be posted to the Fish and Game website in early June. All applicants will receive either a tag or a refund check by mail no later than June 10.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Hunters are asked to choose between a trophy species (moose, mountain goat, or bighorn sheep) or deer, elk, and pronghorn when applying for controlled hunt tags. This rule was implemented to improve the drawing odds for moose, mountain goat, pronghorn and bighorn sheep. However, hunters who apply and don’t draw a trophy tag can submit an application for deer, elk or pronghorn in the second application period.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Steelhead are native rainbow trout which migrate to the ocean as juvenile fish and return to fresh water as adults to spawn. In Idaho these ocean-going trout are often classified into two groups, A-run and B-run based on their size and ocean life history.

Idaho’s A-run are usually found in the Snake and Salmon rivers. They return from the ocean earlier in the year (usually June through August) and they most often return after spending one year in the ocean. Because of their early return and short stay in the ocean they usually weigh 4 to 6 pounds and are generally 23 to 26 inches in length.

B-run steelhead most often return to the Clearwater River, but some return to tributaries in the Salmon River. These fish usually spend two years in the ocean and start their migration to Idaho later in the summer or fall of the year (usually late August or September.) Because of the extra year and the extra summer of growing in the ocean, they return as much bigger fish. Average B-run steelhead weigh between 10 to 13 pounds and are 31 to 34 inches long.

Steelhead grow even larger when they spend a third year in the ocean before they return to Idaho to spawn. These steelhead are usually larger than 37 inches and can weigh more than 20 pounds.

The Idaho state record steelhead was 30 pounds and 2 ounces and was caught in the Clearwater River in 1973.

answered 5/3/2016

A: 

Chinook salmon are often classified into three different groupings or “runs” – spring, summer or fall based on when they enter fresh water.  Spring Chinook salmon migrating to Idaho tend to enter the Columbia River from March through May, summer Chinook Salmon enter the Columbia June through July, and fall Chinook Salmon enter August through November.

In Idaho, most spring and summer Chinook salmon spawn from late August through September.  Fall Chinook salmon tend to spawn from late October through early December.  When spawning, the female will dig a hole in the gravel to lay her eggs.  This hole is referred to as a “redd” and the female will lay anywhere from 4,000 to 15,000 eggs depending on her size.  While the female lays her eggs, a male will simultaneously fertilize them with milt.  When done spawning, the female will cover up the hole with gravel to help insure the eggs are protected from predators.  When spawning is complete, both the male and female die.

The eggs hatch in the spring and the juvenile fish will live the next year in fresh water before migrating to the ocean.  The exception is fall Chinook salmon that only live a months or two in fresh water before beginning their migration to the ocean.  Chinook salmon from Idaho tend to spend one to five years in the ocean before returning to fresh water to spawn, with two years being the most common.  Chinook salmon, like other salmon species, have the ability to find their way back to the same stream and often the exact same place to spawn that their parents spawned.

Young salmon eat both aquatic and terrestrial insects when in fresh water. They turn to a diet of fish once they reach salt water. Adults retuning to spawn do not eat once they enter fresh water; they live off their fat reserves.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

The Chinook salmon is the largest species of salmon and is native to the Pacific Ocean and rivers that flow into it.  Chinook salmon are anadromous fish, meaning they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean where they grow and mature, and then return back to fresh water to spawn.  When Chinook are in the ocean they are silvery in color with black spots on the upper half of their body.  When Chinook salmon return to spawn, they begin changing colors.  The longer they are in fresh water the more they change.  In Idaho, by the time they spawn they can range anywhere from a yellowish-olive color to greyish-black.  In states like Alaska, Chinook salmon will turn a reddish color before they spawn.  One characteristic that anglers can use to identify a Chinook salmon from other salmon species is the entire inside of their mouth is black.

The size that Chinook salmon will obtain is largely dependent on how long they spend in the ocean.  Chinook that spend one year in the ocean before returning to spawn are commonly referred to as “jacks” and average about 3-5 pounds in size.  After two years in the ocean they average around 10-15 pounds, in three years 15-22 pounds, and after four years 25-35 pounds.  The Idaho State record caught Chinook salmon weighed 54 pounds.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

Chinook anglers use a variety of techniques to catch salmon.  The most common techniques that shore anglers use includes plunking, bobber and jig, and side drifting.  Most boat anglers will back troll, plunk, and back bounce.  Since Chinook salmon are not feeding when they are in fresh water, anglers use a variety lures, beads, jigs, and yarn that stimulate them to bite.  Sometimes Chinook salmon are aggressive and will take about anything put in front of them, and other times it requires more finesse.  Many anglers believe that using bait or scent will increase the likelihood that a Chinook salmon will bite.  Popular baits include shrimp, herring, tuna, and cured fish eggs; and there are about as many different types of scents that anglers use as you can imagine.  There are many different sources of information on how to fish for salmon on websites.  You should always feel free to contact Fish and Game for tips on how to catch Chinook salmon.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

Avid anglers will follow salmon returns by checking the dam counts at Bonneville Dam (first Dam on the Columbia River). A general rule of thumb is it takes about 14 to 17 days for salmon to travel up the Columbia River to Lower Granite Dam, the last of the eight dams they must pass over to reach Idaho.  The travel time can vary based on run of Chinook salmon you are following and what flows are like.  For the most part, those fish migrating in higher flows will take longer than fish traveling in lower flows.

answered 4/29/2016

A: 

Because Chinook Salmon return to so many places in the state, it’s hard to say there is a best place to fish.  Much of this has to do with an angler’s preference in how they like to fish and how far they are willing to travel. 

If you want to fish where the best catch rates occur consider fishing closer to where the fish are released.  Recognize that these locations are also the most crowded and it is not unusual to fish shoulder to shoulder in these areas.  You can learn where these release locations are by calling the Clearwater or Salmon Fish and Game offices. If you don’t like crowds, there are many places where one doesn’t have to fish right next to another person.  However, these places tend to have lower catch rates.  If one does enough searching, at times you can find good fishing with little competition from other anglers. 

Some people like to fish from boats whereas others like to fish from shore.  In general, the smaller rivers tend to provide the most shore fishing opportunities, and the larger rivers tend to provide more boat fishing opportunities.  If you like shore fishing consider the South Fork Clearwater, Little Salmon, South Fork Salmon, and upper Salmon rivers.  If you want to fish from a boat consider the Clearwater and lower Salmon rivers.

answered 4/29/2016